Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Excuse me, but which Jesus are you talking about?

There’s an elegant, albeit scrupulously self-serving reason why an awful lot (82%) of the canonical writings pertaining to Jesus were left on the cutting-room floor in the Christian bibles 300+ year editing process. While charlatans, liars and counterfeiters of the highest order, the nameless proof readers and editors ultimately in-charge of fashioning the orthodox Christian product weren’t entirely insane. From the creepily coercive homosexual Jesus who surfaces in James 2nd Apocalypse and the Secret Gospel of Mark (Jesus told him what to do and in the evening the youth came to him, wearing a linen cloth over his naked body. And he remained with him that night, for Jesus taught him the mystery of the kingdom of God) to the gnostic gospel of Thomas (which miraculously forgets to mention the crucifixion) there are in fact over seventy so-named Apocryphal books that were evidently considered either too outlandish or simply too contradictory by early Christian publicists to make the final grade. Alone, this is
a remarkable statement as it means Mathew’s post-crucifixion Zombie Apocalypse (which, extraordinarily, no one in all of Judea seemed to have noticed) was deemed at some point by these same men to be perfectly credible. Credible, that is to say, when perhaps compared to the mob of hideous, fire breathing, winged dragons a two-year-old, nappy wearing Jesus battles (and bests) on his way to Egypt.

That particular story is found in the 18th Chapter of the Gospel of Pseudo-Matthew; one of the nine so-called Infancy Gospels which detail the early life of a thoroughly odd, utterly ghastly little boy named, Jesus; a boy you seriously, absolutely, positively wouldn’t want as a neighbour.

Three years after the dragon incident, now aged five and back in Nazareth (which incidentally wouldn’t actually exist as a town until at least five generations later), Jesus was playing on the muddy banks of a creek with some other kids. Being Jesus he fashions some birds out of clay, whispers life into the statues, and they happily fly away (Infancy Gospel of Thomas 3:2-3). Another boy saw this and for reasons he’d soon regret meandered up to Jesus’ pool of miracle-mud and started poking at it with a stick. Puddles, evidently, meant a lot to Jesus because he goes balls-in-the-air ballistic and murders the kid right there on the spot. “O evil, ungodly, and foolish one, what hurt did the pools and the waters do thee? Behold, now also thou shalt be withered like a tree, and shalt not bear leaves, neither root, nor fruit.” And straightway that lad withered up wholly. (Pseudo-Matthew 27-28)

A little later on that same day Jesus is walking through the streets of Nazareth (streets which, of course, wouldn’t be laid until at least the middle of the 2nd century) whereupon a happy-go-lucky boy carelessly, but accidently, bumps up against him. Without rhyme or reason Jesus goes berserk and in a frenzied fit of rage promptly murders that kid as well. Jesus was provoked and said unto him, “Thou shalt not finish thy course.” And immediately he fell down and died. (Infancy Gospel of Thomas 4:1)

With the homicidal butchering of two kids under his belt before even lunchtime the
five-year-old then goes completely off the rails and in an eruption of egomaniacal hellfire orders that the terrified children of Nazareth (which didn’t exist) worship him as a king. Panic-stricken they obey and mobilise into Jesus’ personal sycophant army who proceed to terrorise the town, forcing all passers-by to pay their respects to him like Kurtz enthroned in the middle of the deepest, darkest jungle. Soon after some men dash through town carrying a child and when confronted by Jesus’ thugs they refuse to divert from their path and pay homage. When he gets wind of this Jesus tracks the men down and demands an explanation. “The child has been bitten by a snake and we desperately need a cure,” they tell him. Jesus calls the snake out from the woods, commands it to suck the poison back out from the boy, and then for no reason whatsoever blows the poor reptile to smithereens. So the serpent crept to the boy, and took away all its poison again. Then the Lord Jesus cursed the serpent so that it immediately burst asunder, and died. (First Gospel of Infancy 18:13-16)

After this incident the townsfolk of Nazareth (a town as yet settled by anyone) confront Jesus’ father, Joseph, and insist he rein the boy in. Under threat of expulsion (from a place not yet founded) Joseph delivers his cease and desist ultimatum to the boy. Jesus hears the words, ponders his father’s insolence, momentarily thinks about killing him, but then chooses instead to just blind all the adults in town. “They shall bear their punishment.” And straightway they that accused him were smitten with blindness (Infancy Gospel of Thomas 5:1).

At this Joseph goes nuts, but Jesus simply dismisses him. He mocks and threatens everyone, says he knows the day of their death, makes a teacher named Zacchaeus cry, then bursts into deranged maniacal laughter and restores everyone’s sight. After that, “nobody dared to make him angry because they did not want to be cursed or crippled.” (Infancy Gospel of Thomas 8:4).

A few days later though Jesus is playing on the roof of a house with another boy and when the lads parents return they, predictably, find their son dead on the ground (Infancy Gospel of Thomas 9:1-3). When asked Jesus says he didn’t do it, rather the kid just spontaneously threw himself off the roof. To make amends Jesus resurrects the boy who’s clearly so petrified of this egotistical little psychopath that he parrots the story and tells everyone that he, in fact, hurled himself off the roof, voluntarily…. Not Jesus, oh no, never.

Now, this is just one snippet (a few days copied across three canonical documents) in
the life of what is essentially fifty entirely different (albeit mostly incomplete) Jesus’; a 1st Century Judean gnostic character who in even the church sanctioned editions exhibits different personality traits doing completely different things at entirely different times depending on which account you read. It is a character to whom not a single physical description is given and who floats in a suggested window of time, yet no date for his birth, deeds or death is offered anywhere. Since his invention in 1939, Batman has also exhibited over fifty entirely unique versions of himself depending on which account you read. In the original 1939 version Bruce Wayne becomes Batman, but in DC Comics Azrael’s version it’s the computer science graduate student, Jean-Paul Valley, who assumes the role of masked crusader. In Batman Earth Two Bruce Wayne is born in 1910, but in Gotham by Gaslight Batman starts his crime fighting career in 1889. In The Batman of Arkham Bruce Wayne is a psychiatrist who runs the Arkham Asylum for the Criminally Insane, while in Castle of the Bat, Bruce Wayne is a geneticist who brings to life a patchwork corpse containing bat DNA and the brain of his father.

Like Batman, Jesus is a character literally impossible to pin down, and if there is any semblance of mild uniformity in the pseudepigraphical synoptic gospels then it’s only because Mathew and Luke were copied directly from Mark; itself an embellished document which originally didn’t even mention a resurrection event (Mark 16). Although divergent the edited and re-edited synoptic gospels are, however, the aberration. In the Gospel of Peter it is Herod Antipas, not Pontius Pilate, who orders Jesus’ death, and in the Gospel of Truth he is nailed to a tree, not a Roman cross. Perhaps even more unfamiliar to our ears is the Jesus found in the Gospel of the Egyptians who not only demands total abstinence but preaches for the outright separation of the sexes, stating that sorrow and error will remain with man “As long as women bear children.”

What is however perfectly clear to anyone curious enough to look is that 1,650 years ago some mindful, temperately script-savvy church publicists figured a murderous, bloodthirsty, psychopathic baby Jesus probably wasn’t the type of character they wanted to sell as their frontline product. A similar decision seems to have been made by the studio executives at DC Comics when in 1994 they passed on commissioning a second instalment to The Tyrant; a freakishly bizarre story where a corrupt Batman takes control of Gotham City, drugs the city’s water supply and turns it into a police state before he is brought down by the villains he once terrorised and then burnt alive inside Wayne Manor by the good citizens of Gotham.

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